Monday, July 6, 2015

Catalina Island Drinking Water Supply Options

Catalina faces a 50 percent water rationing by October 2015.  As of May 7, the water level at the Middle Ranch Reservoir was at 257 acre feet.  Rationing of 25% is in effect because Middle Ranch Reservoir is below 300 acre feet.  When the reservoir drops below 200 acre feet, 50% rationing takes effect.

Southern California Edison is looking at options that could provide 200 acre feet of water a year, or 180,000 gallons of water a day, which would maintain stage two rationing.

Viable options included:

1) Importing water through a barge or a bladder that could be moored at Pebbly Beach.  A temporary mooring station would have to be built and the water stored there could be offloaded by a temporary pipeline, which would have the potential to pump 1,000 gallons of water a minute when demand rises.

2) Upgrade the reverse osmosis units at the existing desalination plant.

3) Installing a portable reverse osmosis unit either at the Pebbly Beach plant or at the Sea Water ponds near the Baker tanks.  The new unit would have the potential to produce 150,000 to 300,000 gallons of water per day.  The new unit would recycle the discharge from the existing desalination plant, which could result in over 200,000 gallons of water produced a day.

4) Drilling deeper groundwater wells in Avalon Canyon.  The Island Company is exploring this option.

5) Construction of more water storage on the island.

Edison is involved in applying for funds under Prop 1, which was a bond act authorizing $7.12 billion for state water supply infrastructure projects.  If Edison is accepted, they could receive up to 35 percent of funds for projects to help mitigate the drought. 

According to Edison in a presentation at the July 7 hearing, the cost of the plant, which will come from Singapore (G.E, Plant)  will be $2.6 million.  The city's $500,000 contribution will drop that to $2.1 million.  Annual operating and maintenance (O&M) will equal about $500,000 annually.  The $2.1 million represents a 20% increase to customers ($20/ month for residential customers and $115/month for commercial customers (assuming grant funds do not take care of the expenses).

Any capital improvements and O & M costs have to be approved by the CPUC.

The Avalon City Council unanimously approved the supplemental payment of $500,000.

( The Catalina Islander, 5/22/2015, SCE City Council Hearing, 7/7/2015)